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This is part 1 of 4 in the Bad Advice sermonlink series. Find this and other pursueGOD.org sermons on YouTube here. For more on addiction, check out the addiction start page.

You probably don’t think of yourself as an addict. But we all face issues that seek to gain mastery over us, whether they be drugs, alcohol, shopping, overeating, tobacco, social media, gambling, shopping, pornography, gaming, and more.

Addiction is a form of idolatry. We turn to a substance or practice, instead of God, to help us cope with life. We take things that are neutral or even useful and make them ultimate. Then we keep giving ourselves bad advice that sustains our bad habits and addictions. Here are some ideas that help lock us in our addictions.

Bad Advice #1: Don’t Ever Admit to Yourself that You Have a Problem

If you want to be an addict, the worst thing you can do is own up to the problem.

Jeremiah 3:13 Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you rebelled against the Lord your God and committed adultery against him by worshiping idols…

The Bible encourages us to acknowledge our problems. But bad advice says: tell yourself you can quit any time. Don’t listen to others when they point out your problem. Make excuses. Just keep telling yourself it’s not really a problem.

[Related: God Overcomes Our Hang-ups]

Bad Advice #2: Gratify Your Every Desire

Whatever cravings you have, go for it! Never say, “No” to anything your heart or body wants.

Galatians 5:16-17 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.

The Bible reminds us that there is a battle within every Christian. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives in you. But you also have an inner inclination to sin. To be an addict, don’t listen to the Spirit. Don’t ever refuse the desires of your sinful nature. And make sure, whatever your vice is, that you keep it conveniently available.

[Related: The Sinful Nature vs. the Fruit of the Spirit]

Bad Advice #3: Keep Your Addiction a Secret

If you want to mess up your life, don’t tell anyone about your problem, especially people who care about you.

Proverbs 28:13 People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

The Bible says that the way to get help is to bring the issue into the open. But sin grows best in the dark, so keep it there. You don’t want people praying for you or holding you accountable.

[Related: The Christian Key to Escaping Porn]

Bad Advice #4: Depend on Your Own Power to Overcome

If you want to become an addict, try to live life in your own strength. Never depend on God’s strength.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NIV) The weapons we fight with…have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The Bible points us to the supernatural resources we have in Christ. Addictions feed on lies to create mental and emotional prisons. But God has the power to demolish the strongholds of addiction. We are too weak and vulnerable to win this fight on our own. But we don’t have to. With God’s power, we can successfully challenge every lie, take it captive, and turn it around.

[Related: Five Weapons for Breaking an Addiction]

What masters you? God is greater than your addiction! You are a new creation in Christ. The Holy Spirit lives in you. Lay claim to God’s power to break those strongholds down. As you do, make sure you take advantage of practical resources God can use in your life: conversations at pursueGOD.org; a trusted friend or mentor; your small group; or a biblically-based recovery group.

[Related Series: Steps to Recovery]

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What do you think is the difference between an addiction and a bad habit?
  3. Read Galatians 5:16-17. Describe the conflict between the Holy Spirit and the sinful nature.
  4. What does it mean to “let the Holy Spirit guide your life”? What is the result?
  5. Read Proverbs 28:13. How does secrecy work against success in overcoming an addiction?
  6. Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. What are some of the lies that help create addictive strongholds?
  7. What are some of the supernatural resources God has given us that give us power over addiction?
  8. How does it work in practice to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”? Give an example.
  9. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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